Sunday 22 September 2019

Seamus Callanan or Noel McGrath? The Throw-In panel whittle Hurler of the Year down to Tipperary duo

Tipperary captain Séamus Callanan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Tipperary captain Séamus Callanan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

It’s a rare occurrence that unanimous agreement is witnessed in The Throw-In studio as our various pundits and writers debate the ins and outs of each week’s GAA action.

Yet that was the case on Monday when the discussion turned to the upcoming Hurler of the Year award as the dust settled on Tipperary’s victory.

Although claims can be made for the likes of Kilkenny’s TJ Reid and any number of Tipp stalwarts, for most the decision seems to come down to a toss-up between Tipp captain Seamus Callanan and his team-mate Noel McGrath.

And while the latter may have got the nod from the Sunday Game panel, it was a different story on this week’s edition of Independent.ie's GAA podcast in association with Bord Gáis Energy.

"For me, a player that scores a goal in every game merits an award like that. That is consistency at the highest level," explained the Irish Independent's Colm Keys.

"I know Noel McGrath has been exceptional. In the second half yesterday his vision was magnificent but I think Seamus Callanan just for his ability to score crucial goals.

"You look back at the goals he scored even in the Munster final against Limerick, the technical ability of the connection against Wexford and the goal against Cork at the very outset.

"Some of those goals came from nothing. You wouldn’t be able to see a goal opportunity but he created them. He was captain, he led and for me is just ahead of Noel McGrath."

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Keys’ colleague from The Herald, Frank Roche agreed, stating: "In my head, last night I was thinking Callanan as player of the year.

"Obviously the Sunday Game team went with Noel McGrath. Bar the Munster final he had a very good Munster campaign and he was my man of the match in the Wexford semi-final. He had a brilliant second-half yesterday but I just think for a player to score a goal in every game…

"I thought going into the final it was between Callanan and TJ Reid and whoever came out on top was more than likely going to win it. TJ had a good All-Ireland in fairness, his free-taking was flawless as it’s been virtually all year.

"He won three or four high balls in the air when Kilkenny were struggling to win anything in the second half. Scored a point, missed one, had a couple of assists. He’s had an absolutely brilliant year but I’d give it to Seamus Callanan."

"He had scored 8-18 from play before the late free on Sunday. He scored all kind of goals, it was the full box of tricks with all kinds of finishes.

"Apart from his goal which you could say was a game-changer, the absolutely sublime assist for Bubbles’ goal killed the All-Ireland final, that won the All-Ireland. Those five minutes finished it. I just think he’s been fantastic.

It was left to the Indo's Donnchadh Boyle to throw a spanner in the works but, on this occasion, harmony reigned in the studio.

Although he did throw in a word of warning of the danger of having two such exceptional candidates when the players come to vote.

"I think Ronan Maher has come with a very late strong push the last two games. He was man of the match in the semi-final and he was excellent yesterday," Boyle concluded.

"You could say the late barrage Kilkenny came with yesterday played into his hands but he wrestled with Colin Fennelly all day and did a really good job on him. 

"But over the course of the season, I agree with the lads, Seamus Callanan.

Noel McGrath of Tipperary celebrates his side's victory
Noel McGrath of Tipperary celebrates his side's victory

"Assuming he’s nominated, that’ll be his fourth time in his career to be nominated for hurler of the year so there are strong arguments that he should have got one already.

"I know what happened before has nothing to do with the 2019 award but I think he has done enough this time.

"There is a certain amount of unease that the vote might be split, I know Dublin haven’t been happy with that a couple of times over the years when the margins have been that tight but I'd imagine that Callanan will get an awful lot of the Tipp votes."

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